CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Prosecutors dismissed domestic violence charges against Panthers defensive end and soon-to-be free agent Greg Hardy on Monday after they said the accuser in the case couldn’t be found.
Hardy was among a list of NFL players facing scrutiny last year over domestic violence cases, including the 49ers Ray McDonald and Baltimore running back Ray Rice. Hardy was also the among the few actually convicted of assault and the team suspended him with pay after the first game.
The dismissal happened just as Hardy’s appeal in the case was set to begin. Mecklenburg County district attorney Andrew Murray told the judge that officials attempted many times to contact the woman, but failed. Murray said the woman had reached a civil suit agreement with Hardy.
Hardy, whose NFL future is uncertain, left with his attorney and did not answer questions. Moments before court convened, Hardy appeared calm, tweeting that he was would be giving away a pair of his game cleats to a fan who could name his favorite color, his favorite president and his favorite NBA player.
Hardy was convicted last summer on assault on a female and communicating threats in a case involving a former girlfriend. The Associated Press generally does not name victims of abuse.
Murray told Superior Court Judge Robert T. Sumner that law enforcement had taken “extraordinary” measures to find the accuser so that she could testify during the appeal. He said they took surveillance of her new address, attempted to find her at work and tried to contact relatives but couldn’t locate her.
The woman’s attorney also would not share information about her location, he said.
The accuser had testified on July 15 that she was scared of Hardy and worried about her safety if she went to police.
She also testified that Hardy threw her in the bathroom and later on to a futon filled with guns. She also said he placed his hands on her throat and threatened to kill her.
“He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me,” the woman testified on July 15. “I was so scared I wanted to die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said just, ‘Do it. Kill me.'”
In his testimony, Hardy refuted that accusation.
He testified that he never hit nor threw the accuser, and didn’t threaten her. Hardy said the woman became angry when he wouldn’t have sex with her and he left the room to sleep in the living room.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment on the dismissal. Team spokesman Steve Drummond said it’s possible the team could have a statement at a later time.
Hardy’s NFL future remains uncertain.
He’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March and it’s uncertain if the Panthers will try to re-sign him.
It’s also unclear if the NFL will hand down any punishment against Hardy based on his original conviction. Hardy had faced a possible six-game suspension under NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s toughened stance on domestic violence following the Ray Rice ordeal.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email Monday to The Associated Press that Hardy remains on the commissioner’s exempt list.
“His status remains unchanged until we fully review the matter,” Aiello said in the email.
Hardy was a dynamic player for the Panthers in his first four seasons, recording 33 sacks. He has 15 sacks in 2013, helping the Panthers go 12-4 and win the NFC South championship.
Following that season, the Panthers put the franchise tag on him rather than allow him to walk in free agency. Hardy made $13.1 million last season despite playing in only one game after being placed on the commissioner’s exempt list.
TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. The Associated Press contributed to this report.